If you go diving off the coast of Jupiter, Florida, you might find an unlikely new buddy. Now a local celebrity, Snooty, the friendly lemon shark, is living proof that you can’t judge a book by its cover.
The charismatic predator greets divers with a “killer” smile that won her an honorable mention in the 2019 Ocean Art Underwater Photo Competition. Snooty was up against some serious competition, including a stunning whip ray who was hitching a ride on a small-eyed ray, a psychedelic seahorse, and translucent clownfish eggs.
However, it was a crab-eater seal who won first place in the Coldwater Ocean category. The photo was taken by Greg Lecouer when he was on an expedition in the Antarctic Peninsula. Greg and his fellow expeditioners documented ”extraordinary marine fauna at home in a fragile ecosystem,” said Lecouer in Underwater Photography Guide.
The team also met leopard seals, gentoo penguins, Antarctic fur seals, and Weddell seals. Unfortunately, all of these majestic animals are at risk because of climate change. ”All of these marine animals are affected by global warming with the melting of the ice” added Lecouer.
While Snooty’s award-winning smile is likely due to what’s called a “mis-set” jaw, photographer Galice Hoarau said in Newsweek that Snooty is a particularly friendly shark. ”Her smile and her ease around divers have made her a local celebrity. She’s always one of the first sharks to come and greet you, and she stays close by until the end of the dive. On this particular dive, I was focused on trying to capture her smile, enjoying her willingness to play along.”
Lemon sharks are one of the most studied sea animals on the planet. They have electroreceptors concentrated in their brains that detect electrical pulses that are emitted by potential prey. They also have magnetic sensors in their noses that help them find prey. Lemon sharks are mainly found in tropical waters at mid-depths. However, they can also be found on sandy seabeds, where their yellowish hue helps to camouflage them from predators.
Lemon sharks pose little threat to humans, and this is undoubtedly why Snooty and her visiting diver friends are so at ease with each other.